Francesc Fabregas took the plaudits once again last weekend with a solid display in Arsenal's 1-0 win at Old Trafford. The classy midfielder has become something of a stalwart for  Arsenal and home fans will be hoping he can inspire his team-mates to their first Premiership victory at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The visitors are Neil Warnock's Sheffield United but they also have a regular plaudit-earner in their ranks. Since making his debut in a 2-2 with Swindon in May 2000 tough-tackling midfielder Phil Jagielka has been one of the first names on United's team-sheet and hasn't missed a league game for two years. 

We know they did it for their respective clubs last season but how have Fabregas and Jagielka started the new campaign?

As you'd expect Cesc has certainly been the more attacking of the two. His forays forward were awarded last weekend when he stole the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo to set up Emmanuel Adebayor's winner and record his first assist of the season. He also hit two goals against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League but is yet to get off the mark in the Premiership. Five shots on target and three off in his 360 minutes so far suggest it's not through lack of trying.

In comparison Jagielka is yet to make an assist in a Sheffield United side that has managed only two Premiership goals since promotion from the Championship. The midfielder will also be looking to increase his efforts on goal having managed only three shots, of which two missed the target.

Arsenal's playmaker has also been more comfortable running at opposing sides having produced an end product from three of his five bursts forward. Two out of three ain't bad for Jagielka either.

There is also little to separate the two in terms of passing with both finding their target on 28 occasions and Jagielka making just three errors less than the 17 by Arsenal's orchestrator.

The Englishman's true strengths lie in protecting the Blades' rearguard. He has already made a habit of breaking down opposition attacks with seven interceptions in his 450 minutes on the pitch. He has also made nine clearances and blocked three shots compared to the Spaniard who has three clearances, one interception but no blocks to his name.

Neither player is shy of a tackle according to the stats. Cesc has won six challenges and Jagielka seven and they have given away just four free-kicks between them. Three of those were by Cesc but the Sheffield man has conceded a penalty.

So it seems those in Emirates Stadium on Saturday are destined to witness a midfield battle of the highest quality. With the home fans behind him Fabregas will be hoping his incisive passing can instigate wave after wave of attack from midfield. Jagielka is already proving he can cut it as Warnock's first line of defence however, so the Spaniard, and Arsenal, may just have to find an alternative route.


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Head to Head Statistics Cesc Fabregas Phil Jagielka Premiership Appearances 4 5 Minutes on pitch 360 450 Attacking Goals 0 0 Shots on target 5 1 Shots off target 3 2 Shots blocked 3 0 Offside 0 0 Supporting Assists 1 0 Passes made 45 42 Passes complete 28 28 Passes incomplete 17 14 Crosses successful 1 1 Crosses unsuccessful 4 1 Total dribbles 5 3 Dribbles successful 3 2 Dribbles unsuccessful 2 1 Defending Tackles made 8 11 Tackles won 6 7 Tackles lost 2 4 Interceptions 1 7 Blocked Shots 0 3 Clearances 3 9 Penalties Conceded 0 1 Own Goals 0 0 Discipline Fouls 3 1 Yellow Cards 0 0

12/1 - Arsenal v Sheffield United: Fabregas to score the first goal


Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Sep 2006